'EastEnders' gives negative view of families, says study

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The Independent Online

A more negative picture of family life is shown by EastEnders than any other soap opera, because it shows "warring" characters frequently engaged in serious conflict and rarely having a happy moment, research says today.

A more negative picture of family life is shown by EastEnders than any other soap opera, because it shows "warring" characters frequently engaged in serious conflict and rarely having a happy moment, research says today.

Coronation Street features the highest proportion of broken families, where parents have split up and not formed new relationships, and has some of the most caricatured and unrealistic characters, the survey says.

The research, by the National Family and Parenting Institute, an independent charity giving advice on family life, says Coronation Street shows the most positive relationships between fathers and children, offers the most creative solutions to family problems and manages to convey a hint of family life from the child's perspective.

Brookside depicts the highest number of family crises where parents have to grapple with "negative life events", but the programme has the most effective family support. The drama also features the highest number of children. Other soaps tend to consign youngsters to the background, or refer to them as burdens.

The Archers has the most upper or middle-class characters, more married couples than the national average, and the least amount of family conflict out of the four soaps studied during one month. The report says most scenes in EastEnders portray families in some kind of conflict, with members at odds with each other as well as other families."Almost all the characters were strongly predisposed to negativity and showed little restraint in giving vent to ill-temper or in pursuing anti-social courses of action." Conflicts spread and often led to violence.

It adds: "While some conflicts did appear to be resolved, resolution was rarely complete or permanent. At the slightest hint of a 'happily ever after' ending, it was as though a bad fairy lurking in the workings gleefully sprang back to life and steered the warring family back to their customary game of 'unhappy families'."

Childless couples were under-represented by all the programmes and only Coronation Street showed a realistic number of single people.

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